Estimates and Plans – The tightly bonded relationship

Estimation and planning are related topics (not similar topics), but at the same time estimation is not planning, and planning is not estimation. As project managers we do tend to ignore this relationship very often.


Estimation should be treated as an unbiased, analytical process; where as, planning should be treated as a biased, goal-seeking process.


With estimation, the goal is accuracy; the goal is not to seek a particular result. But the goal of planning is to seek a particular result.


Estimates form the foundation for the plans, but the plans don’t have to be the same as the estimates. If the estimates are dramatically different from the targets, the project plans will need to recognize that gap and account for a high level of risk. If the estimates are close to the targets, then the plans can assume less risk.

Both estimation and planning are important, but the basic differences between the two activities mean that combining the two tends to lead to poor estimates and poor plans.

Some of the planning considerations that may depend in part on accurate estimates, can be:

  • Creating a detailed schedule

  • Identifying a project’s critical path

  • Creating a complete work breakdown structure

  • Prioritising functionality for delivery

  • Breaking a project into iterations


When you’re asked to provide an estimate, determine whether you’re supposed to be estimating or figuring out how to hit a target.

A good estimate is an estimate that provides a clear enough view of the project reality to allow the project leadership to make good decisions about how to control the project to hit its targets‥

December 15, 2007 · Rahul Desai · No Comments
Posted in: Project Management, Software Engineering

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